Trump’s evangelical support is strong. Will it remain strong after this?
In a speech on Monday at Liberty University, a Christian college, the Republican presidential frontrunner bungled his citation of a Bible verse while saying Christianity needed to be protected.
“We’re going to protect Christianity. I can say that. I don’t have to be politically correct,” Trump told the religious crowd. “Two Corinthians, 3:17, that’s the whole ballgame … is that the one you like?”
“I’m a Protestant, very proud of it—Presbyterian to be exact,” Trump added. “But I’m proud of it. Very, very proud of it.”
In fact, “two Corinthians” is not the proper way to refer to this book of the Bible—not because it bucks tradition, but because it’s grammatically incorrect.
Second Corinthians—usually written “2 Corinthians,” which could explain Trump’s mistake—is a book of the New Testament attributed to Paul the Apostle. Historically speaking, it is widely believed to be the second letter written by Paul (the first being 1 Corinthians) to his congregation in Corinth. Thus, “Second Corinthians” is shorthand for “second letter to the Corinthians.” Two Corinthians simply doesn’t make sense—and the crowd at Liberty University let Trump know it with a few verbal jibes heard during his speech.
Online, the reaction was far more brutal.
Trump polls relatively well with evangelical voters—24 percent of the evangelicals in a December Quinnipiac poll planned to vote for him. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Trump’s closest rival, also earned 24 percent support. A Monmouth University poll released the same week found Cruz with 30 percent of evangelicals’ support compared to Trump’s 18 percent.
As the Washington Post reports, however, evangelical leaders are less enthused about a Trump presidency due to the real estate mogul’s business dealings in gambling, among other concerns. One such leader, Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, derided Trump throughout his Liberty University speech in a series of subtweets.
If other evangelicals side with Moore over Trump, the businessman’s problem the Christian right may be bigger than a simple gaffe.